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New household charge could be docked from wages or welfare

People who boycott the annual payment – including several TDs – could see it taken directly from their paychecks or benefits, the Government has confirmed.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

PEOPLE WHO REFUSE to pay the new household charge may see the payment docked from their wages or welfare payments, the Government has confirmed.

The move means anyone who does not pay – including a number of TDs who have pledged to boycott the Budget measure – is unlikely to face prison, but will simply see the sum taken from their income at source.

However, opposition TDs have warned that non-payers could face fines of up to €2,500 as well as legal costs if they are brought to court.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said that he intends to introduce a system of “attachment orders”, allowing the Government to collect fines directly from people’s wages or social welfare payments in instalments over time.

The Department of Justice today confirmed that the household charge would be treated in the same way as other fines.

A spokesperson for the department told TheJournal.ie in a statement: “The position regarding the non-payment of fines under the Local Government (Household Charge) Bill 2011, is the same as for the non-payment of any other fine.”

The statement adds that all other options, including attachment orders, would have to be exhausted before a person would be jailed for non-payment. Legislation introducing the attachment orders is expected to be published in the new year.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley said the legislation provided for fines of up to €2,500 in case of non-payment, in addition to legal costs. He told the Dáil:

The person who cannot afford the household charge will be brought to court and if found guilty will have to pay the court costs of the local council that brought them to court. There is also provision for fines of up to €2,500.

Yesterday, his party colleague Pearse Doherty told TheJournal.ie that he was among the TDs who would be boycotting the charge – but added he would “not encourage people” to follow his lead.

RTÉ reports that 15 TDs have now said they will not pay the charge.

More: Pearse Doherty won’t pay Household Charge – but says don’t follow his lead>

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Michael Freeman

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